free ebooks

A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

1 The Devon Place Hotel may be the best in Karachi


I

have gone into this little episode somewhat at length in order to impress upon the voyager to India the necessity for limiting the number of firearms or getting a friend to father the extra ones through the Customs--a perfectly simple matter had one foreseen the difficulty. Also the danger of taking parcels for friends--of which more anon![1]

The Devon Place Hotel may be the best in Karachi, but it is pretty bad.... I am told that all Indian hotels are bad--still, the breakfast was a considerable improvement on the _Marie Valerie_, and we sallied forth as giants refreshed to have a look at Karachi and do a little shopping. It being Sunday, the banks were closed, but a kindly shopman cashed me a cheque for twenty pounds in the most confiding manner, and enabled us to get the few odds and ends we wanted before going up country--among them a couple of "resais" or quilted cotton wraps and a sola topee for Jane.

Karachi did not strike us as being a particularly interesting town, but that may be to a great extent because we did not see the best part of it. On landing at Kiamari we had only driven along a hot and glaring mole, bordered by swamps and slimy-looking flats for some two miles. Then, on reaching the city proper, a dusty road, bordered by somewhat suburban-looking houses, brought us to the Devon Place Hotel, near the Frere station. After breakfast we merely drove into the bazaars to shop before betaking ourselves

to the station, in good time for the 6.30 train.

Passengers--at least first-class passengers--were not numerous, and Major Twining and I had no difficulty in securing two compartments--one for our wives and one for ourselves.

An Indian first-class carriage is roomy, but bare, being arranged with a view to heat rather than cold Two long seats run "fore and aft" on either side, and upon them your servant makes your bed at night. Two upper berths can be let down in case of a crowd. At the end of each compartment is a small toilet-room.

It was unexpectedly chilly at night, and Twining and I were glad to roll ourselves up in as many rugs and "resais" as we could persuade the ladies to leave to us.

[1] A big deal case which we unpacked at Srinagar proved to contain a "life-sized" work-table. The package holding our camp beds and bedding, having a humbler aspect, had been sent to Bombay and cost as a world of worry and expense to recover!

CHAPTER III

KARACHI TO ABBOTABAD

This morning we awoke to find ourselves rattling and shaking our way through the Sind Desert--an interminable waste of sand, barren and thirsty-looking, covered with a patchy scrub of yellowish and grey-purple bushes.

I can well imagine how hatefully hot it can be here, but to-day it has been merely pleasantly warm.

Jane and I were deeply interested in the novel scenes we passed through, which, while new and strange to us, were yet made familiar by what we had read and heard. The quiet-eyed cattle, with their queer humps, were just what we expected to see in the dusty landscape. The chattering crowds in the wayside stations, their bright-coloured garments flaunting in the white sunlight--the fruit-sellers, the water-carriers, were all as though they had stepped out of the pages of _Kim_--that most excellent of Indian stories.

And so all day we rattled and shook through the Sind Desert in the hot sunlight till the dust lay thick upon us, and our eyes grew tired of watching the flying landscape.


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us